Mad House

MadHouse_WebIn the years following World War II, the center of social life at the Lake was River Styx. The best remembered place is the Mad House. Located at the River Styx Bridge, the Mad House opened in the 1920’s during Prohibition. Located at a major resort, it is not surprising that the Mad House and several other Lake establishments, are purported to have been speakeasies. The 1950’s saw the River Styx Bridge a buzz of activity on summer weekends as revelers tried to determine where the best music and crowd was to be found. One of the favorite midweek activities at the Lake was the Mad House’s famous Amateur Night every Tuesday. The Mad House burned in 1970. Sometimes billed as “one-man Vaudeville,” Joe Cook was adept at juggling, telling jokes, acting, singing, dancing, and mime. Cook was known for his good-natured comedy and infectious smile. By the 1920’s, he was a headliner on the Vaudeville circuit. While renting at the Lake in 1924, the Cook’s purchased the Boulders cottage in the Davis Cove section of Hopatcong. After extensive renovations, Cook renamed it Sleepless Hollow, an appropriate name considering the many parties and festivities which would be held there. Just about anyone who was anyone during the 1920’s and 1930’s visited Sleepless Hollow as witnessed by this photo of Babe Ruth’s visit to Hopatcong. Graduating from Vaudeville, Joe Cook became a Broadway musical comedy star, performing in such hits as Rain or Shine, Fine and Dandy, and Hold Your Horses. Cook, never a fan of Hollywood, only made two full length features – Rain or Shine, directed by Frank Capra, in 1930 and Arizona Mahoney in 1936. During the 1930’s, Cook was popular on radio, hosting two variety series and regularly appearing as a guest on others. Joe Cook regularly mentioned Lake Hopatcong in his acts and on radio. His Hopatcong home was regularly featured in magazines and newspaper articles of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Cook truly was Lake Hopatcong’s ambassador to the world.